The Monk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
This painting was criticized for lacking a relationship between the monk and the viewer; we cannot see the monk, know his expressions and possible emotions. And this fact describes the paintaing as "the first 'abstract' painting in the modern sense"
The poet, dramatist, Heinrich von Kleist says...
"How wonderful it is to sit completely alone by the sea under an overcast sky, gazing out over the endless expanse of water. It is essential that one has come there just for this reason, and that one has to return. That one would like to go over the sea but cannot; that one misses any sign of life, and yet one senses the voice of life in the rush of the water, in the blowing of the wind, in the drifting of the clouds, in the lonely cry of the birds ... No situation in the world could be more sad and eerie than this—as the only spark of life in the wide realm of death, a lonely center in a lonely circle... Nevertheless, this definitively marks a totally new departure in Friedrich's art..."
... and I cannot agree more. What Friedrich brings is exactly the relationship between the lone individual and the world. In a way, we become the monk that views the see and it is up to our own sentiments, our own historicity, to dictate how we feel about its presence beside us.